Almost daily outfit of the day: I'm back, y'all. 10.31.11

Thrifted J Crew denim jacket; Gap Outlet cargos; thrifted Gap Kids button-down; Dolce Vita suede wedges

DUDES. This is the HOTTEST OUTFIT EVER, amirite???

Bam. I just lied to you. I TOTALLY know I look like crap. This is far from my most inspired outfit. My eleven year-old could come up with something more fabulous, and she's a tomboy who has to be cajoled into brushing her hair . In addition, I'm pale. I'm pasty. My smile is forced. I look wiped out. And let's not even talk about my hair. But in my defense, this is the first outfit I've worn in a week that didn't include sweatpants and slippers. I'm not accessorizing with a clutch filled with Kleenex. And I'm not sprawled in a fetal position on my couch, hacking into a tissue and wailing that I am never, ever going to feel better.

People, pneumonia is nothing to joke about. There were moments in the last week when I was convinced, absolutely convinced, that I was GOING TO DIE. I pictured my husband coming home from work and finding my cold, lifeless body crumpled on the ground, kind of like that scene in Steel Magnolias when Dylan McDermott discovers poor sickly Julia Roberts collapsed on the stairs, her hand curled around the phone and a bubbling pot of spaghetti sauce boiling over on the stove and her beautiful, beautiful blue-eyed son wailing next to her, desperately pleading for her to just GET UP and take him trick-or-treating. (Just try to deny that this isn't the very saddest scene you've ever watched in a movie. Go ahead. I'll wait.)

I was NOT going to be Julia Roberts. No siree. So I sent prayers to the gods for recovery in return for things I was going to do once I got better, the kind of desperate promises you can only make when you're deep in the throes of illness. Such as, from now on, I'm going to take my vitamins. I'm going to get 8 hours of sleep every night. I'm going to work out every day, and avoid trans fats, and floss twice a day and watch more PBS and maybe even add some charity work because, what the hell, it can't hurt.

YEAH, I can feel your side-eye from here.

So bear with me here. Things could be a lot worse. This could be a photo of me hacking into a tissue. Be grateful that it isn't.

(I have an awesome giveaway coming tomorrow, just to thank you all for not deserting me during Pneumoina Germpocalypse 2011. Say tuned.)

Winners of the JC Penney and Moissanite giveaways announced!

Taking a beak from my convalescence with pneumonia to announce two giveaway winners!

The winner of the JC Penney $25 gift card is:
Slow Southern Style!

Well you know I follow you all up and down this joint but I follow on Bloglovin' and on Twitter and on Facebook.

Congratulations on the drawing! It was completed on Friday, 28 October 2011 9:46:11 UTC. 161 entrants, 1 winner. The winner was drawn from a list of 161 entrants using true randomness, which for many purposes is better than the pseudo-random number algorithms typically used in computer programs. 

And the winner of the Moissanite stud earrings is...

Diane said...
These are beautiful! I would never buy another diamond! I have one moissanite piece and I would LOVE these to match!! Thanks for the chance!!

Congratulations on the drawing! It was completed on Friday, 28 October 2011 8:37:35 UTC.  72 entrants, 1 winner. The winner was drawn from a list of 72  entrants using true randomness, which for many purposes is better than the pseudo-random number algorithms typically used in computer programs.

A mandatory sick day

This is my outfit of the day pic. Inhalers are very in for fall.

I've been fighting some sort of cold/sinus infection/bronchitis/typhoid fever for the past two days, and this morning it's seemed to turn into something more debilitating. In the interest of protecting you against whatever drivel I'd post while being heavily medicated on Nyquil, I'll be taking a couple of days off from blogging. This is not easy for me. I am a workaholic, and perfectionist, and taking a day off from blogging is akin to failure. Debilitating illness or not.

While I'm drowning myself in Progress chicken noodle soup, hot apple cider and Theraflu, catch up on my posts from the last few months. There's some entertaining stuff in there. I'll still be on Twitter, though,(@dresscourage) so in between my moaning and torturing my husband and complaining about, well, everything, we can chat. Come say hi. It'll be a nice diversion between bad daytime television.

On Sundays I Smile - Week in review October 23rd

On Sundays I review the past week and I Smile. I share these moments with you.

This week I took a little break from my thrifting for a brush with luxury. I decided to play lady who lunches and took a drive down to the Neiman Marcus flagship store in Dallas. This is a place that smells like money, orchids, and $1000 body lotion concocted from caviar and diamond dust. Touching and trying on clothes I drool over in magazines was practically a religious experience. It wasn't until I dropped by the Chanel boutique, though, that I began to seriously swoon.

This is not a picture taken in Neiman Marcus. No, this is the lobby of my gynocologist's office. Only in the Texas suburbs are doctor's offices constructed out of Italian marble, granite, leather and crystal. I have to admit that my lady-bits felt a wee bit more comfortable surrounded by such luxury.

Yesterday was my husband's birthday, and we celebrated by accompanying him to the PGA Superstore. This is a place where middle-aged white men in plaid shorts congregate to discuss things like their swing and birdies and balls and related ridiculous topics. There was this fun indoor putting green, though, that made the trip a little more bearable.

I also took a little trip to my best-friend-in-my head Kendi's (of Kendi Everyday - surely you've heard of her) shop Bloom, conveniently located ten minutes from my house. I had grabby hands for nearly everything, but it was this leather clutch that came home with me.

Now it's your turn: What are some things that made you smile this week? Grab my button (created by Kate of Divergent Musings - HUGE THANKS to Kate!) and blog about your Sunday smiles; share your weekly smiles in the comments; or smile just because it makes you feel good.

As I sit in reflection on the $4000 python Valentino bag that beckoned to me in Neiman Marcus, catch up on everything from Dress With Courage this week:
In addition, I also wrote an article on the power of getting personal in your blog posts for the Independent Fashion Bloggers website. Be sure to check it out!

I have one big giveaway running right now:
As always, thank you for supporting me by following my blog, continuing to leave thoughtful and introspective comments, and dropping by every day. I am so appreciative that you are here.

If you're visiting my blog for the first time, please think about following me through Google Friend Connect, tweeting with me on Twitter (@dresscourage), and following me through Bloglovin'. I also have a new Facebook page - come say hi!

Fashion Beauty Friend Friday: Here comes Halloween!

Katy Rose of Modly Chic, founder of Fashion Beauty Friend Friday, is a little obsessed with Halloween. Inspired by the spirit of  getting ready for the event, this week's Fashion Beauty Friend Friday questions are Halloween themed.

1. Do you have plans for Halloween? What will you dress up as this year?

Since becoming a mom and having to worry about things like finding my kids' treat bags and trying to force them to decide how they want to dress, my own Halloween aspirations have fallen by the wayside. It's a joy to costume my children, though. I love taking them to Party City and picking out fake spider web to drape over our front yard. I love carving pumpkins. I love eating all the chocolate and candy I can without throwing up. And I love taking my kids trick-or-treating and helping them sort through their loot when we get home.

My boys as Mario and Luigi, their heroes and doppelgangers.

I haven't dressed up for Halloween in years, which I'll admit is kind of sad. However, this year will be different. I've been invited to a couple of parties and have decided to dress as a famous fashion blogger dressed as Rachel Zoe. I'll wear a fur vest, wide leg jeans, a printed blouse, a floppy hat, platform shoes, giant sunglasses and masses of gold jewelry. Oh, and red lipstick. I'll hold a Starbucks cup and stomp around muttering "" and "Ba-NAN-nas" all night. If I had longer hair I'd part it in the middle and curl the ends, but that's just not possible.

Basically, this.
2. Where do you go for costume and makeup inspiration?

I like the concept of using fashion trends from the past to inspire costumes. I've dressed as a flapper, a hippie, a 1950's greaser, and a seventies disco girl. I'm at the point where I thrift for nearly all my clothes, and all of these costumes can be dug up at a Goodwill or Salvation Army. Pinterest has some really inspiring Halloween costume ideas too.

3. What was the best costume you've ever donned?

One year I dressed as a ballpark hot dog vendor. That was awesome. I was in seventh grade and won the most original Halloween costume contest. Which was probably the greatest moment I had in middle school.

4. What's the most creative costume you've ever seen?

Yesterday I saw a photo of a couple with the guy dressed as Terry Richardson, famous creepy photographer, and the girl dressed as an underage American Apparel model in a velvet unitard and thigh highs. That was pretty amazing.

5. No holds barred: if you could dress up as anything, what would it be? 

This is going to sound nuts, I have always harbored secret fantasies of dressing as Scarlet O'Hara from Gone With The Wind. I'd wear a historically accurate costume, complete with a hoop skirt to voluminous small children could hide beneath it.

As usual, I’d love to hear your on this topic in the comments! Are you dressing up for Halloween? Do you participate in the holiday or skip it? What's your favorite thing about Halloween?

Fashion Beauty Friend Friday was created by Katy Rose of Modly Chic. Become a member at the Fashion Beauty Friend Friday Google Group to join in the discussion!

Almost daily outfit: An ode to autumn and pumpkin things 10.20.11

Gap blazer; thrifted vintage blouse; thrifted Joe's Jeans; Stuart Weitzman wedges; vintage thrifted clutch; Forever 21 bracelet

Autumn has finally arrived in Texas. This means that temperatures have dropped below eighty and everyone is walking around in gloves and scarves and wool peacoats and tights with Nike Tempo shorts and Uggs. Is this a Texas thing, this Nike shorts with tights and Uggs? It needs to stop. Basically, everyone looks all kinds of ridiculous.

I am definitely a fall kind of girl. For a long time, September, October and November have been my dream months. September is new school supplies (which my inner nerd is nostalgic for) and digging my fall clothes out of storage - things like like plaid skirts and cable knit sweaters and corduroy jeans. October is Halloween and stuffing my face with all the chocolates. And November symbolizes Thanksgiving, and football on TV, and spending time with family and friends. Between the the crisp bite of chilly air in the morning, to the smell of woodburning fires in backyard fire pits in my neighborhood, to hot apple cider and the crunch of leaves underfoot, fall is magical.

However, my favorite thing about fall is pumpkin. Essentially, I want all the pumpkin things. And when I say all, I mean all. Pumpkins are pretty great on their own, what with their bright cheery color and whimsical shape.  But at this point in the year I am focused on consuming all the pumpkin because pumpkin tastes and smells like autumn. I want pumpkin spice candles. And pumpkin spice lattes. And pumpkin muffins and pumpkin bread and pumpkins all over my house and OH MY GOD JUST HAND OVER ALL THE PUMPKIN ALREADY AND NO ONE WILL GET HURT *GRABBY HANDS*.

Today I am happy because I am wearing jeans and a blazer and not sweating my butt off and have pumpkins all over my house. Life is good.

An open letter to L'Oreal Preference hair color

Dear box of L'Oreal Preference hair color in Intense Red Copper,

L'Oreal, you probably know that not every woman is ready to take hair coloring into her own hands. But like Spam and bicycling to work, home hair color appears to be that rare thing that's become more appealing due to the recession. Asked how the economy had changed their spending habits, 15 percent of 1,000 American women who have their hair colored professionally said they now color it at home, according to a recent survey by Mintel, a market research firm. Another company, Information Resources, said dollar sales of a popular Clairol product, Root Touch-up, have shot up 20 percent.

My hair and I, we've been through it. There was that summer when I was pregnant with my daughter and spontaneously decided to lop it off into a whimsical pixie cut. I looked like I had a pea-sized head on top of a watermelon-sized body. Then there were the years I bleached my hair into a color and texture that can only be referred to as "skanky." And let's not forget a childhood of waist-length locks, combed into submission each morning by my evil, horrible, utterly sadistic mother. I am fairly certain I've earned a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder due to that.

In high school I discovered henna hair dye. This was a big deal. As far as I was concerned, there was nothing cooler than coloring your hair. I thought that doing so would automatically transform me into an entirely different person, someone sophisticated and chic - someone exactly like the women I observed on the subway in the morning. They wore red lipstick and walked with a confident sway, probably off to their glamorous jobs as beauty editors of fashion magazines like Vogue or Sassy where they drank martinis and ate sushi for lunch and met their investment bankers at cool downtown clubs and ran half marathons just for fun. Essentially, a new hair color would make me happier than a Lisa Frank binder. I could. Not. Wait.

Sadly, henna hair color didn't turn me into a glamorous magazine editor. But it did make my hair resemble a pile of rusted nail abandoned on the side of the highway. I needed to step things up. So I waltzed into Duane Reade and plunked down $6 for a box of L'Oreal Preference hair color in a shade of red so shocking it was certain to both piss off my mother and stop traffic. A win-win. I've been loyal to L'Oreal ever since, and now you, dear readers, know my secret. I should have shared it with you a long time ago but I didn't because 1) it's my secret, and 2) sometimes I imagine I'm a Pretty Little Liars cast member with a mysterious past and give all the haters in my laptop evil side eye all day because they're trying to figure out what my secret is and I'm like, step off haters.

Anyways. L'Oreal box of hair color, we've had some interesting times. Yes, you once "accidentally" turned my fingernails a shade of red undeniably close to that of blood  (which horrified my manicurist, a perfectly lovely woman who unfortunately plucks out her eyebrows and draws them back in with pencil. And by the way, *nothing* scares me more than a woman who plucks her eyebrows out and pencils them back in. For reals.) Ahem. Hair color, you're leaked onto my towels and stained a perfectly good bathmat, thanxmuch. But you've transformed me into an exotic creature, fiery and spicy. You've given my hair a color so saturated, so vibrant, it can be recognized in the dark. With my red hair I am Christina Hendricks, also known as The Sexiest Woman Alive. I am sultry curves and smokey voiced and can really, really fill out a wiggle dress. Men are positively enraptured. They turn their heads when they see me saunter by. Okay, they gawk as I trip over a napkin at Starbucks. But whatever.

So thanks, L'Oreal Preference hair color. You complete me. You are the wind beneath my wings. You make me feel like a natural woman. You raise me up.


(P.S: This post is not endorsed or sponsored by L'Oreal. L'Oreal has no idea who I am. I could disappear off the face of the earth tomorrow and L'Oreal would have no clue.)

Have you ever colored your hair at home? Did you like the results, or were you horrified?  What shades have you tried? Will you swear your undying loyalty to a certain brand and share it with us? Pretty please???

In case you missed it:

I think I can, I think I can: How self efficacy can cure your bad habits

When I was a little girl,  my favorite book was Charlotte's Web. It was the first book I ever took out of the library using my own library card; the first book I read that had chapters; and the first book that made me cry. Late at night, long after my parents had gone to bed, I'd sit in my faded yellow armchair and read Charlotte's Web over and over until the spine became bent and pages worn tissue thin.

Of all the characters in the book, the one I most adored was Charlotte, the heroine. Confident and spunky, Charlotte devotes herself to saving Wilbur from slaughter by weaving colorful adjectives in her web to describe him - things like terrific and radiant. Though she is doubted by both Wilbur and the other farm animals, her conviction and determination to save Wilbur's life, and success when doing so, ultimately becomes her legacy.

I was thinking about Charlotte when I finished my own book this weekend. Truthfully, I should have wrapped it up weeks ago, but I've been dragging my feet. I just could not get motivated to pull the last chapters together. I couldn't figure out where my energy to write had disappeared to. I wondered if I was a slacker. Maybe I wasn't meant to write a book at all. Perhaps I should stick to something simple, like matching my socks together when folding the laundry and coordinating my belt to my shoes. But on Sunday afternoon, I pulled myself out of my slump and wrote the final sentence. I was done. After dancing around the house in celebration and closing my laptop, I realized what had been holding me back. I was afraid of failing. I was unsure in my ability to produce something credible and legitimate. I doubted my ability to write anything aside from a glib email, a snarky tweet. Without confidence in my proficiency as a writer, I could not perform to my potential.

Psychologists refer to this confidence as self-efficacy, the strength of an individual's belief that they can succeed at a given activity. Research has shown that, “efficacy beliefs (through cognitive, affective, and motivational regulatory mechanisms) influence how people feel, how much effort they invest in actions, how long they persevere in the face of obstacles and failures, and how resilient they are to adversity (Salanova, Llorens, & Schaufeli, 2010).” Health behaviors such as non-smoking, physical exercise, dieting, dental hygiene, or recovery from an illness are dependent on one’s level of perceived self-efficacy (Conner & Norman, 2005). If you believe you can quit smoking, or get in better shape, chances are high that you actually will. I managed to pull myself out of anorexia and bulimia because I was not only determined to recover, but also convinced that I could. Self-efficacy influences the effort you puts forth to change negative behavior and the persistence to continue trying despite setbacks that might influence motivation.

A high sense of self-efficacy can be caused by a number of factors. Seeing some close to you succeeding on a project similar to yours; having past experience dealing with success; and having a strong support network of people who believe in you can all raise your self-efficacy.

It makes sense that people who believe in themselves and have the confidence in their skills would have higher self-efficacy than those who don't. These people view tasks as challenges to be mastered rather than be avoided. They set tough goals and stay committed to reaching them. But it helps to be passionate about the activity you're engaged in. Charlotte was determined to help Wilbur because she loved him. The sacrifice in time and energy were worth it because her friendship with Wilbur meant so much. Without that passion, she probably would not have been motivated to fight for him.

The moral of this story? If there's something you want to change about yourself, you probably can. Believe in your abilities and have confidence in your strength. Stay passionate and motivated to change. You are worth fighting for.

Do you have a bad habit you'd like to change? Have to tried to overcome it but had trouble finding the motivation? Do you believe higher self-efficacy has an affect on behavioral change?

In case you missed it:

Things 90's TV and Movie Stars Wore That I Tried To Wear Too

I've always struggled to define my personal style. Currently, I'd have to say it's the best it has ever been. I try to wear things that are both comfortable and figure-flattering, while attempting to stay somewhat age-appropriate. I understand what silhouettes flatter my figure and which are best to be avoided. I also inject quite a bit of courage into my wardrobe, busting out the sequins during what some might consider controversial settings. Like the supermarket.

If my style had to be categorized, I'd say it's Carrie Bradshaw meets the J Crew catalog with a dash of Mad Men and Zooey Deschanel's character on That Girl, minus the covetable hair. Yes, it's a  somewhat schizophrenic look, and brings to mind a wild-eyed mess of red lipstick and denim and sequins and snug pencil skirts. Getting to this point, though, has been a long and interesting trip. In my 37 years, I have run through a wide variety of looks. I went through a phase where I wore head-to-toe designer clothes, complete with those obnoxious logo handbags that you see on spoiled teenagers and suburban moms at the mall. I experimented with grunge, tearing my vintage Levis and pairing them with plaid flannel shirts and a disaffected smirk. There was a moment with preppy style, in Lacoste polo shirts and chinos from The Gap. I even had a brief brush with athletic wear, during which I wore Nike sneakers with track pants and oversize sweatshirts. That was a particularly unfortunate phase.

Being that I am a child of the nineties, most of my fashion inspiration came from the stars of that decade. As an awkward, geekish teenager stuck in the suburbs, the mythical creatures that graced my TV set were glamorous, stylish, and youthful. They were my first real fashion influences, the people I looked towards for what was trendy. I studied their appearance much as a National Geographic cinematographer tracks a herd of axis deer, and as a result, there were more than a few times when I took fashion cues from them. Was I successful? Well, there's a reason why imitation isn't always the most sincere form of flattery.

The Crop Top

Oh, Donna Martin. She spent her summers at the Beach Club and and went to Paris with Brenda where she almost became zee famous fashion model while Brenda worked zee very very unfortunate French accent for a boy who was, how do you say, gorgeous. She lamented her virgin status and drove a BMW (or was that Kelly? I don't know) and nearly almost didn't graduate high school because she had one measly glass of champagne. One glass. Which was an outrage. Donna is remembered primarily for her somewhat...colorful outfits. She worked a lot of crop tops. A lot of crop tops.Which is fine if you are like her and have an augmented bust and abs that look like you can grate cheese on.


The sexy preppy look was perfect encapsulated by Cher and Dionne in Clueless, though their liberal dose of Californian valley girl vernacular added a certain element I wasn't able to replicate. I adored the white collars that peeked from their sweaters; their plaid skirts; their loafers and headbands and fresh-faced innocence. I loved how their cardigans perfectly coordinated to their accessories and seemed to be made from a combination of angora and baby's breath. But the thigh-high stockings lost me. No matter what size I bought, thigh-highs either squeezed my legs like sausage casings or slid down to my ankles into sad little puddles of wool.

High-Waist Jeans

Melrose Place is most remembered for Heather Locklear's crotch grazing miniskirts and that scene where Jane threw Sydney in the pool after she stole their grandmother's dress, followed by Jane comparing her to the Bride of Frankenstein. Dysfunctional sibling squabbles aside, Melrose Place introduced me to high-waist baggy jeans with a button fly. These were jeans that climbed to your rib cage and cost an astronomical $80 (if you went with Diesels, the preferred brand among Melrose Place starlets.) They were typically accompanied by pegged legs and tiny back pockets, and flattered no one.

Oversized Clothes

Angela Chase of My So-Called Life was my hero. She was awkward, and self-doubting, and thought a lot about things like her failing grade in science and zits and if her dad was cheating on her mom and the size of her breasts and whether she and Sharron were going to stay friends after that horrible hottest girls of the ninth grade list that was passed around at school. There was also Brian, sad sack Brian pining away for Angela while she made out with Jordan Catalano in the stairwell basement of their school. And Ricky and Rayanne, the best friends I wished I'd had. Angela Chase encouraged me to dye my hair red and thrift for grandpa cardigans. Thanks to her, I wore a lot of baggy, oversize clothes that made me look like a hobo Hobbit.

The Rachel Haircut

Those wacky, endearing characters on Friends were full of mystery. How did a group of struggling twenty-somethings afford that cavernous Manhattan apartment? What ever happened to Ugly Naked Guy? Did Monica ever get professional help for her OCD? How did they manage to keep Rachel's triffle down without throwing up? But mostly I questioned how Rachel's hair managed to look so...perfect. It was as if Chandler moonlighted as a hairdresser. Not a hair was out of place. Each strand was lustrous and shiny. It managed to be both perfectly tousled and elegantly simple at the same time. This kept me awake at night

Outstanding list of missteps aside, I still learned a lot from these iconic 90's characters. For example, don't allow yourself to be photographed by a creepy drug dealing French photographer because OF COURSE he will turn out to be a pedophile. There's always an excuse to wear plaid. It's generally a bad idea to live with crazy siblings, and even worse to share boyfriends with them. And sometimes you just gotta hang out in a coffee shop with your friends. That lesson was the best.

On Sundays I Smile - Week in review October 16th

On Sundays I review the past week and I Smile. I share these moments with you.

This morning I went to the Texas State Fair. Readers, going to the Texas State Fair is a must-do at some point in your lifetime. Put it on your bucket list. The weather is always gorgeous; there are a ton of interesting things to do (and see) (oh - and eat) and you are guaranteed to have an amazing time.

Most people begin their state fair experience with a stop over at Big Tex. Big Tex is a ginormous animatronic cowboy fashionably outfitted in Wranglers and a Dickies western snap shirt. Tex hollers at passers-by, instructing them to see the prize-winning cattle and dog shows and DON'T MISS the country band down at the Chevy Stage. It's creepy and fascinating.

The fair is spread over 47 acres, which makes the tran ride across the midway enticing. I've been to the fair countless times, but this was the first year I took the tran. It was worth it.

As is common at state fairs. there are rides - lots of rides. Most of them fall into gravity-defying/ scaring the holy hell out of you category, what with their flipping upside down while turning counterclockwise at 85 miles an hour and spinning spinning spinning and just looking at them makes me think I AM GOING TO DIE RIGHT HERE ON THIS VERY SPOT. There was this very mild and  safe-looking roller coaster, though, which my boys decided to try. On their own. Without parental accompaniment. This was a BIG DEAL. They did fine, though, and I only lost 19% heart muscle worrying, which isn't too bad.

Most people go to the Texas State Fair for one thing, and one thing only: The food. There, you can indulge in a nice healthy breakfast of corny dogs and Diet Dr. Pepper. Like I did.

By lunch time, you can try something a little more artery clogging, like fried butter and fried Frito pie and fried pineapple upside-down cake and fried Margaritas and fried bologna and fried barbecue ribs. The state fair committee runs a contest for the craziest fried food each year, and I sampled last year's winner -  the fried peanut butter, jelly, and banana sandwich. It was like looking upon the face of God.

Now it's your turn: What are some things that made you smile this week? Grab my button (created by Kate of Divergent Musings - HUGE THANKS to Kate!) and blog about your Sunday smiles; share your weekly smiles in the comments; or smile just because it makes you feels good.

 As I sit here, reflecting upon my state fair experience and digesting 92016524 pounds of cholesterol ridden, delectable state fair foods, catch up on everything from Dress With Courage during the past week:
I also had two big blog mentions of note:
  • My post on appearance and your reflection in the mirror was featured on Already Pretty's lovely links for the week;
  • and the same post appeared on The Beheld's Beauty Blogosphere links of the week.
Please be sure and take a moment to read through the links in both posts. I have been introduced to so many great blogs through them!

As always, thank you for supporting me by following my blog, continuing to leave thoughtful and introspective comments, and dropping by every day. I am so appreciative that you are here.

If you're visiting my blog for the first time, please think about following me through Google Friend Connect, tweeting with me on Twitter (@dresscourage), and following me through Bloglovin'. I also have a new Facebook page - come say hi!

    Almost daily outfit of the day: In which I reference the Ivy League 10.15.11

    Forever 21 denim jacket; Citizens of Humanity jeans (eBay); thrifted vintage tee; thrifted Cole Haan loafers; Dolly Python bracelets

    Confession: This  outfit is a bald face lie. I am wearing a thrifted Dartmouth tee shirt today, and I (gasp) did not attend Dartmouth. There was a very distinct group of peers in my high school who were absolutely desperate to attend an Ivy League school. They spent their free time hanging out in the college guidance counselor's office, pouring over those behemoth 627198326 page Pearson's Guide To Colleges and Universities books, trying to determine which Ivy offered the best dorms and which was the most competitive and which had the strongest program in political science or art history or Russian literature or whatever.

    I was not one of those students. I wanted nothing to do with the preppy lifestyle of an Ivy school, what with their crew teams, parking lots filled with BMW's and girls who wore head-to-toe J Crew. I couldn't care less about vacations in St Barts and whether I wore pearl studs or tiny gold hoops from Tiffany's. Not to mention that my S.A.T scores were nowhere near what they needed to be to gain admittance to an Ivy League school. So I was quite happy to spend my college years at a music conservatory and state school, where I wore my Dr. Martens and thrifted Levis without so much as a second glance.

    I can't deny that I felt a tiny bit smarter in this tee shirt, but that's probably due to the fact that I thrifted it for eighty-nine cents. I'll take what I can get.

    In case you missed it:

    My feature in this week's IFB Links a La Mode - Week of October 14th

    This week Dress With Courage was selected to be featured in the Independent Fashion Blogger's Links a La Mode! I am truly flattered to be included with so many talented bloggers. Please be sure to read through their posts - you will not be dissapointed.

    (I also wrote my first article for the IFB website this week regarding one of the most important elements of a good blog - content editing. Getting the opportunity to write for IFB is a dream come true, the culmination of ten months of blogging and hard work. I am beyond grateful to Jennine, founder of IFB, for giving me a chance to contribute. You can read the post here.)


    You animal.

    Edited by Vahni of Grit & Glamour

    It’s been a while since I’ve done a LALM roundup, and it’s nice to be back! You’ve been busy little bloggers—some trend reporting here, a little schmoozing backstage at Salvatore Ferragamo there, and a lot of DIYing. You’re veritable blogging animals, with fabulously-spotted hides to match! Yeah, the animal trend—prints, furs, style stalking, what have you—with this round of posts, consider it done. And well-done, I might add.



      Almost daily outfit: Whiteout 10.13.11

      Thrifted vintage Diane Von Furstenberg blouse; Citizens of Humanity jeans (eBay); thrifted python clutch; Nine West high-heeled loafers; Forever 21 bracelets

      White clothes are sleek. White clothes are elegant. White clothes are light. White clothes scare the crap out of me. On the few occasions I wear white, I am reduced to a quivering anxious mess, convinced I will spill something aggressive and highly pigmented on myself. Such as red wine. Never mind the fact that I rarely drink red wine, and when I do it is strictly for medicinal purposes only, stop looking at me like that.

      When I came across this blouse at a tiny Goodwill for $4, I knew it was time for me to get over my fear of white clothes. This was a sign from the gods. This was my chance to confidently strut through the day, head held high, secure in the fact that I am a grown-up and not a toddler who careens around with grape juice stains dotting her romper. Mostly because I despise rompers.

      In any case, I managed to make it through the day without a single stain on my new blouse, despite close encounters with coffee, marinara sauce, and the unidentifiable ickiness my children graciously carried home from school. Victory is sweet.

      In case you missed it:

      Why criticism is a good thing

      Last night I received some criticism. It felt unwelcome and uncomfortable. After spending time running through the comments in my mind and working myself into somewhat of a frenzy, I realized that I had challenged the criticism without evaluating the validity of the comments. It dawned on me that there might be a better way of handling it.

      Criticism used to terrify me. And because it terrified me, I didn't know how to respond to it. I hated feeling that I was letting someone down. I became irrationally upset at the idea I was misunderstood. Because criticism more often seemed like a thinly veiled insult than anything constructive, I felt vulnerable and weak. It's no wonder most people become defensive when they face criticism.

      Whenever the word "criticism" is mentioned, it seems to invoke a negative response. Criticism can make a person angry and nervous. We all want to feel good about ourselves, and when someone judges us negatively any doubts we might have internalized come to the surface. Most of us already have pretty substantial fears about our self-worth, so it doesn't take much to turn those doubts into a serious blow to the ego. Why some people react stronger to criticism than others is a matter of debate. Whether a person was criticized incessantly when they were growing up, or repeatedly criticized by someone they admired and trusted, criticism appears to constitute a very real threat.

      Understanding what criticism is might be the first step in facing it in a  reasonable way.  The word criticism comes from the Greek word kritikos, which means to judge for the sake of improvement. There are two kinds of criticism: constructive criticism, which is intended to help us improve and keep communication open, and destructive criticism, which is used to humiliate and control. (For the sake of this post, I'm going to focus on constructive criticism.) By nature, criticism is a positive thing. "Criticism is information that will help you grow", states psychologist Hendrie Weisinger, Ph.D. If we can take the emotional response out of a critical comment and view it objectively, the benefits would be hard to ignore. Of course, that's a lot easier said than done. When someone is judging your work, appearance, relationships or taste in music, it can be tough to remain objective.

      With the popularity of social media, we are all vulnerable to criticism at any point during the day. Whether a Twitter friend comments on your position concerning age-appropriate fashion, or a message board follower questions the focus of your blog (which is what happened to me yesterday), it's more important than ever to regard criticism as a positive tool rather than a menacing blow. Criticism is not inherently bad, and more often than not, can lead to some pretty amazing growth.

      So how can we learn to accept criticism? Here are some tips:
      • Take a deep breath. Count to ten if it's necessary. Give your body some time to slow down so you can react intellectually and not emotionally.
      • Evaluate the source of the criticism. Is the criticizer dumping on you out of a spirit of hostility? Are they posting out of a sense of spite or anger? If so, it's smart to disregard the attack.
      • Act, don't react. Criticism is a form of communication. If someone has constructive criticism they want to give you, most of the time they just want to offer feedback on what you're doing. Case in point: When I started blogging, a reader informed me that my posts didn't have enough personality. From this I heard that I needed to get more personal in my posts and show readers who I really am. She was right.
      • Drop the negative outlook. Criticism sent through the internet feels meaner and more cruel, because it is more permanent than verbal communication (thanks to my friend Carrie for the advice!) But don't immediately take all criticism as negative. Most of the time, criticism is subjective - what it means is simply how you look at it.
      • Learn from the criticism. More often than not, criticism illustrates something about yourself that you weren't aware of.  It reveals your blind spot - something other people might see, but you don't. This can be an excellent opportunity to take a step back and evaluate whether there's something that could use improvement.
      You can’t control others; you can only control yourself. That means you have a choice in your response to criticism: you can ignore the criticism, use it as a motivator, or become upset and angry. How you approach criticism is up to you.

      Product review and giveaway: Win a pair of Moissanite stud earrings worth $99!

      I was recently contacted by Charles and Colvard, creators of Moissanite, to ask if I was interested in doing a product review of their jewelry. Never one to turn down something shiny and sparkly I agreed, and they sent me a pair of stud earrings to wear.

      I'd always believed that Moissanite was a false stone much like cubic zirconia - a fake imposter sadly pretending to be a diamond, but appearing nothing like it. But I learned that Moissanite is derived from silicon carbide, a naturally occurring mineral. It sparkles more than a diamond, is flawless, and has more fire and brilliance than a diamond. It is the second-hardest material on earth - stronger than sapphire, emerald or ruby, and is remarkably resistant to scratching, abrasion, breaking and chipping. Silicon carbide is very rare in it's natural form and is too scarce in nature to be mined. Charles & Colvard, Ltd., owns a patented process for creating the jewel in a way that recreates the characteristics of the original mineral, duplicating its toughness, durability, fire and brilliance.

      I've been wearing these earrings for a week and have gotten nothing but compliments on them. They are beautifully sparkly and look exactly like diamond earrings, but are a fraction of the cost. I typically wear very small studs or hoop earrings, and these added a very noticeable amount of glamor to my thrifted outfits.

      I'm pleased to be able to offer my readers a chance to win a pair of Moissanite stud earrings of your own! With a total weight of 0.5 carat, and a retail value of $99, these are sure to become an integral part of your wardrobe. These studs come in a brilliant round shape, though Moissanite is available in fancy cuts such as cushion, princess, radiant and square brilliant.

      To enter to win these gorgeous earrings, simply do the following:

      • Follow me on Google Friend Connect (button is on my sidebar)

      For extra entries:

      • Follow me on Twitter @dresscourage
      • Follow Moissanite on Twitter @CCMoissanite
      • Tweet the following about the giveaway: I just entered to win a pair of Moissanite stud earrings worth $99 from @dresscourage! You can win too!

      Please leave a separate comment for each entry.

      Giveaway ends on October 28th at 9 am CMT. Giveaway is for US residents only. Winner must contact me at dresswithcourage(at)gmail(dot)com with their mailing address within 48 hours of end of giveaway. Failure to contact me will result in forfeiting the earrings.

      Thanks for entering and good luck!

      In case you missed it: You still have a chance to enter my giveaway for a $25 gift card to JC Penney!

      Does your actual appearance match what you see in the mirror?

      Image via We Heart It

      What do you see when you look in the mirror? Where do you focus your attention? If you're anything like me, your eyes zero in on the areas that you think need the most improvement, are ashamed of, or otherwise cause your distress and anxiety.

      When I look into the mirror, my eyes immediately zoom in on my stomach. I am by far the most sensitive about that part of my body than any other, so much so that in July I devoted an entire post to the contentious relationship I've had with that body part. The state of my stomach defines my mood, my diet, and the level of anxiety I feel during the day. When it is flat I feel confident; when it's bloated or bulging I feel anxious and depressed. I don't want to be touched; I wear long shirts and Spanx in an effort to conceal what I am certain looks like a 9 month pregnancy belly; and, worst of all, I miss the days of my anorexia and bulimia, when my hipbones jutted forward proudly and my stomach was concave.

      I was having dinner with two friends the other day when the conversation wound to our bodies - specifically, what parts each of us despised the most. One friend lamented her calves and thighs, which she proclaimed "huge." Her discomfort towards them was so strong that it dictated how she dressed - no short skirts, shorts or body skimming pants for her. The other complained about the "junk in her trunk" - her booty, which she felt had gotten bigger and bigger in the past few years. For the life of me, I could not see what either had to complain about. I didn't see huge legs, or a big butt, or any flaws at all. They each looked beautiful - two well-dressed, intelligent women I was proud to have dinner with.

      Most of the time, the image someone has of their body is pretty close to its external appearance. You may see your thighs as slightly bigger than they actually are, or your arm muscles as slightly smaller, but the discrepancy is usually minimal. In some mental disorders, however, body image can become dramatically distorted. Those who suffer from body dysmorphic disorder think that parts of their bodies are malformed or grotesque, even when these supposed flaws are not noticeable to others. In eating disorders such as anorexia patients continue to think they need to lose weight even as their bodies become emaciated.

      When I was in treatment for anorexia, one common group therapy activity was body tracing. We'd sketch an outline of our bodies on a life-size piece of butcher paper, then lie in the outline as another patient traced our actual size inside of it. The discrepancy between what we thought our body shape was, and what it actually was, astounded us. I couldn't help but flash back to this memory after dinner concluded. I wondered how far off the average woman's perception of her body is from her actual size.

      What people see in their mirror and how they believe they look varies wildly according to age, ethnic group, sexual orientation, mood, what they've been watching on TV, what magazines they read, whether they're married or single, what kind of childhood they had, whether they take part in sports, what phase of the menstrual cycle they're in, whether they are pregnant, where they've been shopping – and even what they had for lunch. All research to date on body image shows that women are much more critical of their appearance than men, and much less likely to admire what they see in the mirror. Up to 8 out of 10 women will be dissatisfied with their reflection, and more than half may see a distorted image. According to the authors of the website My Body Gallery,  95 percent of non-eating disordered women overestimate the size of their hips by 16 percent and their waists by 25 percent, yet the same women were able to correctly estimate the width of a box. In a world full of images of how we ‘should’ look it can get difficult to tell how we DO look.

      Your body image is how you perceive, think and feel about your body. This may have no bearing at all on your actual appearance. I've been feeling really crappy about my appearance lately, but while I'm struggling, I'm trying to figure out what has triggered these negative thoughts. My two friends mentioned the anxieties they're currently struggling with - work stress, and shame for having not attending college. I believe there's a direct correlation between how we see our bodies and external stress.

      So now I ask you: What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you believe you over or under-estimate your size? Have you ever noticed a correlation between poor body image and mood?

      In case you missed it:

      On Sunday I Smile - Week in review October 9th

      On Sundays I review the past week and I Smile. I share these moments with you.

      Yesterday I took a little solo road trip to Austin to attend the Vintage Glamporium and spend time with my friend Grechen. Road trips are awesome for so many reasons. First of all, in the safety of your car, you're able to sing at the top of your lungs to really bad but incredibly catchy pop music (thanks for the companionship, Adam Levine) and not give a second thought as to who can hear you. You can take advantage of the lonely stretches of road to brainstorm ideas for blog posts. And you can also become really aggravated at drivers who insist on crawling along in the left hand lane at 50 miles an hour. I always wonder exactly what these people are thinking. Don't they notice all the irate drivers speeding past them, flipping them off and screaming profanities? Do they not care that they're tying up traffic? These things keep me up at night.

      Anyway, the Glamporium was pretty wonderful, though the clothes seemed overpriced. I have a hard time buying things from vendors when I know how much they spent on them at the Goodwill or estate sales. But it was still fun to wander around, chat with sellers and gaze at vintage.

      Two of my favorite vintage stores were there - Vintage Martini and The Style Station - and they brought some pretty incredible things with them. I lusted over their cowboy boots, 1950's tulle strapless prom dresses, snakeskin purses and sequin tops.

      The piece at the Glamporium that gave me the biggest case of the grabby hands had to be this insane suede fringed jacket. Priced at nearly $1000, I had to walk away. This jacket will haunt me, though.

      Grechen and two of her friends are holding a pop-up vintage shop in Austin on October 22nd, called Hunt. Gather.Style. I quite generously helped them prepare by snatching up two pieces I can't wait to wear that will appear on the blog this week.

      My most favorite piece of theirs was this fully sequined zebra striped blouse. I cannot believe I didn't bring this home with me. It is magical.

      Now it's your turn: What are some things that made you smile this week? Grab my button (created by Kate of Divergent Musings - HUGE THANKS to Kate!) and blog about your Sunday smiles; share your weekly smiles in the comments; or smile just because it makes you feels good.

      While I'm smiling, here's what happened on Dress With Courage this week:
      Two blogger mentions this week, on two blogs I deeply respect:
      As always, thank you for supporting me by following my blog, continuing to leave thoughtful and introspective comments, and dropping by every day. I am so appreciative that you are here.

      If you're visiting my blog for the first time, please think about following me through Google Friend Connect, tweeting with me on Twitter (@dresscourage), and following me through Bloglovin'. I also have a new Facebook page - come say hi!